'A lot better': Goertzen praises fentanyl agreement with China
Talks to formalize joint investigations to begin next week
Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said the RCMP's Thursday announcement of an agreement with China will help stop the flow of fatal opioid fentanyl into Manitoba.
Goertzen said co-operation with China was one of the priorities put forward by the provinces at the Ottawa summit he attended last week with federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and other provincial ministers.
"Is it going to be foolproof and waterproof in terms of stopping the importation? Not likely," he said. "But I think that it's going to be a lot better than where we are right now where we don't have enough vigorous enforcement."
Goertzen said he was "cautiously optimistic" Philpott would follow through on other provincial suggestions as well, including a national ban on pill presses and increased authority for Canada Border Services Agency officers to check envelopes at lower weights than usual to catch powdered fentanyl in the mail.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and Chen Zhimin, the vice-minister of China's public security ministry, have agreed to boost efforts to disrupt the flow of the drug and other opioids, the force announced Thursday, following meetings this week.
Fentanyl and other opioids pose a grave threat to community safety in Canada, said Paulson, who described the meetings as "an important step forward" in a co-ordinated approach to the problem of fentanyl.
Discussions to formalize joint investigations will begin next week, the RCMP added.
Fentanyl, a highly potent and addictive opioid, is estimated to be up to 100 times stronger than morphine. Another opioid known as carfentanil, commonly used as an animal tranquilizer, is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.
With files from Linda Givetash, CBC News, and the Canadian Press